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The Morning After: SpaceX lost another Starship prototype

This is what prototypes are for.

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Mat Smith
March 31st, 2021
In this article: themorningafter, gear, newsletter
The Morning After: SpaceX lost another Starship prototype

What is happening to SpaceX’s prototype Starships? The woes continued with its fourth launch attempt as SpaceX lost its SN11 Starship roughly six minutes into its high-altitude journey. It's not clear exactly what went wrong, but the engine bay camera feed dropped right after one of the Starship's engines relit for the landing sequence. Whatever happened led to a sprinkling of parts showering the landing site.

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SpaceX

SpaceX’s boss, Elon Musk, noted that the second engine had problems during both the ascent and landing burn, but expect more details from the engineering team later this week. Should SpaceX be worried? Probably not — this is what prototypes are for. The company apparently building each new Starship prototype in three weeks or less, but it’s a notable wobble when SN10 was able to land (before blowing up) and the presumably improved SN11 didn’t even get that far. 

— Mat Smith

Volkswagen's 'Voltswagen' rebranding is just an April Fool's stunt

An April Fool's joke executed two days early, for some reason.

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Volkswagen

We had our doubts. Yesterday, Volkswagen US tweeted out a new logo and issued a press release announcing plans to rebrand itself as Voltswagen as the company expands its electric car ambitions. While press contacts for Volkswagen US didn't initially comment on the issue, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal both cite unnamed sources claiming that on Wednesday, Volkswagen will reveal the name change is not real, and is a poorly coordinated April Fool’s joke.

As a marketing campaign, it seems odd that Volkswagen would choose to remind people that you can't trust what this company says (dieselgate), instead of simply highlighting the ID.4, a compact crossover SUV that doesn't need silly stunts to convince people it's worth driving. Continue reading.

Warning: 'Super Mario 3D All-Stars' soon goes away forever

Artificial scarcity is more brutal than that one jump in ‘Super Mario 64.’

As of this Thursday, April 1, both Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario Bros. 35 will be delisted from all digital shops, as well as the former no longer restocked at retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart, so get your physical copy while stocks last. All three titles are well-regarded platform classics and should prepare you for the Switch’s own Super Mario Odyssey, if you haven’t already tackled it. Continue reading.

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Imagine is its shiny, next-gen spaceship

And the company’s still aiming for test flights in May.

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Virgin Galactic

The VSS Imagine is certainly eye-catching, channeling that Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Naboo starship look in a wonderful way. It’s finished with a mirror-like material that’s meant to reflect its surroundings, whether that’s the blackness of space or the blueness of Earth’s atmosphere. It’s not all about aesthetics: That coating also offers thermal protection. Virgin Galactic’s third-generation SpaceShip has a modular design, aimed at making incremental improvements easier and less costly. According to the company, Imagine will “lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles.” Continue reading.

Xiaomi's first foldable phone has a shape-shifting 'liquid lens' camera

Foldables are still happening.

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Xiaomi

Xiaomi has unveiled its first foldable phone, the Mi Mix Fold, which follows the same inward-folding, dual-screen form factor as Huawei's Mate X2 and Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 2. To help it stand out, however, it’s the only one to feature a "liquid lens" on one of its rear cameras. It involves the phone’s 8-megapixel "bionic" camera, which has a motor to precisely manipulate a packet of fluid to switch it between telephoto mode (3x optical zoom or 30x hybrid zoom) and macro mode (down to 3cm). Continue reading.

Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) review

A great smart display and mediocre sleep tracker.

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Engadget

Google’s new Nest Hub is an improved version of the original with one notable new feature powered by the company’s Soli motion sensor. While this Sleep Sensing functionality is technologically impressive and could be useful for some, a potential fee would be hard to swallow. (Google has teased that sleep tracking service is in beta and will require a subscription in the future.) For $100, though, the Nest Hub manages to outdo its predecessor at a significantly cheaper price. It sounds better, too. Continue reading.

ARM’s v9 is its first new chip architecture in a decade

It will power the next 300 billion ARM-based devices.

With its v9 chip architecture, ARM is aiming at three areas of improvement: security, AI-related processing and overall computing power — of course. ARM claims v9 will enable performance increases of more than 30 percent over the next generations of mobile and cloud CPUs, thanks, in part, to its Total Compute design philosophy. Supercomputers have also informed the design of this new architecture. It will feature the latest version of the company's Scalable Vector Extensions (SVE) technology, used by the world's fastest supercomputer. A new SVE2 platform will give ARMv9 chips an edge when locally processing 5G, machine learning, and virtual and augmented reality workloads. Continue reading.

Apple's upcoming iOS update unblocks 'Asian' search adult content warning

Screen Time has been blocking search queries with 'Asian' in them.

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Engadget

If you toggle on Limit Adult Websites in Screen Time on iOS, you won't be able to search for anything with the word "Asian" on Safari. Doing so will only return a page that says you can't browse the results for your query because it's restricted — it doesn't matter if you were only searching for "Asian food" or "Asian countries." The next version of iOS’ beta undoes this issue, which has been public since at least December 2019. This was when iOS developer Steven Shen reported the bug to Apple. Until now, it had remained unresolved and was put into stark relief when Stop Asian Hate trended online to combat the rise of anti-Asian sentiment in the US.

Apple rolled out the beta last week, so you can download and install it if you're part of the company's Beta Software Program. The final version is expected to land later this spring. Continue reading.

But wait, there’s more...

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Mercedes-Benz's EQS interior is a blend of luxury and high-tech

Gocycle's G4 e-bikes come with more powerful motors and wider tires

Google's new experimental app can scan and categorize your documents

Apple is keeping WWDC free and online-only for 2021

Genki Wave for Work hands-on

Disney+ shows off 'Star Wars: The Bad Batch' with an action-packed trailer

IBM's first 'retail' quantum computer is headed to the Cleveland Clinic

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